In-State Contributors for WVU Football in 2020

Daniel Woods

West Virginia football has a rich history of seeing in-state players become stars in the old gold and blue. From the great Ira Errett Rodgers to Rich Braham and all the way up to the likes of Trevon Wesco, the natives of the Mountain State have formed the backbone of Mountaineer football.

Looking ahead to the 2020 season, there are several West Virginians that will be counted on to make a major impact on the field.

Darius Stills (Starting NT, Sr., Fairmont, WV)

A legitimate candidate for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Stills has come a long way since being a lightly recruited defensive end out of Fairmont Senior High School. Long overshadowed by younger brother Dante, he broke out in 2019 and became an all-conference caliber performer.

With 47 tackles, 14.5 for loss and seven sacks, Stills was named First-Team All-Big 12 and now returns for his final season as arguably the most accomplished defensive lineman in the conference. The son of Mountaineer great Gary Stills has blown all expectations out of the water from when he came on campus at WVU and will look to cap off his career with a bang in 2020.

Dante Stills (Starting DT, Jr., Fairmont, WV)

As previously mentioned, the younger Stills brother was highly recruited during his days as a Fairmont Senior Polar Bear, choosing the Mountaineers over a who’s who of suitors including Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Penn State and Miami.

After a strong freshman season in which he showed flashes of stardom in limited time on the field, he had a sort of miniature breakout in 2019, being named Second-Team All-Big 12 while still splitting time with the now-graduated Reese Donahue.

Stills turned into a walking cause of havoc for opposing backfields, tallying 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. The skills that made him such a highly-touted high school prospect are clearly showing up now and his NFL potential could be as high as anyone on the roster.

Dylan Tonkery (Starting MIKE Linebacker, R-Sr., Bridgeport, WV)

A three-year starter, Tonkery has played virtually every position in the linebacking corps since converting from safety during his redshirt season. A steady force with versatility, he will look to bring some stability over the middle of the field in 2020.

Capping off his second to last season with 36 tackles while playing in a variety of roles, “Tonk” will be back to finish his career as a starter. Look for him to help steady a Mountaineer defense that could be very volatile in the 2020 season.

Evan Staley (Starting Kicker, R-Sr., Romney, WV)

The last West Virginian expected to slot in as a starter this season is Romney-native Evan Staley. Since filling in for an injured Mike Molina as a redshirt freshman in 2017, Staley has been a solid presence on both place kicks and kickoffs.

Despite missing four games a year ago, he led the team with 54 points on 11 field goals and 21 extra points. Additionally, he tallied 17 touchbacks on kickoffs while averaging nearly 60 yards per kick.

Proving to be the next in a long line of in-state walk-ons to make major contributions on special teams, Staley is one of the most experienced players on West Virginia’s roster.

Jake Abbott (Backup MIKE Linebacker, R-Jr., Fairmont, WV)

A high school teammate of the Stills Brothers, Jake Abbott started making waves on the depth chart ahead of his sophomore season. A quarterback and linebacker in high school, Abbott converted to defense full-time in college.

Winning the Tommy Nickolich Award as the program's top walk-on at the end of last year's spring practice, his attitude and work ethic have been evident on the sidelines and in his contributions on special teams. With Shea Campbell completing his Division-I eligibility, Abbott will be relied on even more and has the ability to make an impact on the field this season

Dante Bonamico (Backup SPEAR Safety, R-Sr., Bridgeport, WV)

In what is sure to be a young secondary, the veteran Bonamico will have a large role to play in 2020. A special teams ace and strong depth contributor the last three years, the high school teammate of Tonkery will be called on as a locker room leader for some talented but inexperienced players.

After a standout career at Bridgeport on both sides of the ball, his intensity and hard work has allowed him to carve out a solid career in the gold and blue. With his final year as a Mountaineer on the horizon, Bonamico can be counted on as a reliable piece for defensive coordinator Vic Koenning.

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Sharon S. Perez
Sharon S. Perez

I like the term mountaineer footballers. What a nice and solid name which is given to players. These all players are very good and can get Assignmentman for classy from Rich Braham to Ira Erret Rogers. All these players have their own class and they have played some astonishing tournaments.